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Where to go for a crab feed?

So here's the story...a buddy is dropping his wife off at the Oakland airport Sunday, late afternoon/early evening. With the Dungeness season now on, we'd like to find a place within a reasonable driving distance of the airport that serves fresh steamed crab. Extra Bonus Points if it's on the road to Benicia, though that's not required.

Recent threads have lots of info on where to buy crab to take home, but I couldn't find anything on where to go out for one.

We're not looking for anything especially fancy, paper napkins are fine, though we won't refuse linen if it's offered. All we really need is a few simple steamed crabs and a beverage. Any ideas?

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  1. I'm not very familiar with E Bay, but I'm sure some CHs can point you to some Asian restarants in Alameda. Might have to settle for spicy salt and pepper crab, or some other exotic dish (darn!).

    1. I'm afraid I only know of two places that are both in SF. However, they are incredibly worth the drive.

      R and G Lounge on Kearny (get the house special crab and special beef as well as green beans and rice-the meal is complete)

      The other place is called Crustacean, which I hear is better-but I haven't been.

      2 Replies
      1. On the road from OAK to Benicia, Daimo in Richmond has live tanks which this time of year normally include Dungeness crabs. They're in the parking lot of 99 Ranch (visible from the freeway), two-three blocks off the Central Avenue exit, which is right on the border as you cross from El Cerrito to Richmond.

        There are a bunch of places in Oakland's Chinatown with live tanks. Legendary Palace should have crab this time of year.

        Non-Asian, there are Nantucket and the corporate Dead Fish in Crockett.


        1 Reply
        1. re: Robert Lauriston

          Thanks for the pointer, Robert. I've been to Dead Fish a few times and in addition to being somewhat 'corporate' I found it wildly inconsistent. Quit going for that reason. Cocktails are pretty good, and the view is great, but the food is a roll of the dice. Roasted mussels and the crab salad are about the only things that come close to being reliable.

          Haven't tried Nantucket, but will remedy that soon, I think.

          I've been buying live crab at that 99 Ranch fairly often. Will stop by Daimo on my next visit. Thanks again.

        2. I wouldn't cross the bridge to go to R&G, as they can be notoriously inconsistent. The first jiaoyan crab they served us there was one of the worst single Chinese dishes we've ever had. I'd look for a reputable sea-food oriented Cantonese restaurant in the EB (anything around Pacifc East Mall?) and go for the ginger-garlic prep, which for me is the most rewarding and is usually the cheapest.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Gary Soup

            Daimo's in the parking lot of the Pacific East Mall (99 Ranch is the mall's anchor tenant).

          2. I have to complete disagree with the report on R&G. I think I have been there at least 40 times this past year and have probably had their salt and pepper crab there every time and it has been very good. Even my folks who live in GuangZhou - when they come to visit will ask us to take them there for the crab. It may come out a little greasy but it is flavored perfectly. Definitely go try it!

            2 Replies
            1. re: misspiggy

              I've learned I can't argue with the R&G True Believers, but if you eat Dungeness Crab 40 times a year you're obviously eating it well out of season and are probably getting creatures that have been in the tank for a long time. Either you are a die-hard or R&G's prep is very forgiving.

              1. re: misspiggy

                I, too, love their crab but I never like anything else I order there. What do you suggest? I don't like black mushrooms or anything gelatinous/slimy.

              2. While not every dish on R&G's menu is astounding, I've never had a bad salt-and-pepper live-fried crab there, and I order one every time I go. It is a very forgiving preparation and the quality of their crabs, both on-season and off, seems to be very high.

                Clearly though, R&G is further out than PDXpat would like to drive.

                  1. re: bajalover

                    Why do you think Scoma's crab is worth the high price and long detour from the East Bay?


                    1. re: Robert Lauriston

                      Consistently great food, great view. Linen but not fancy. Love their cioppino too, best I've ever had except what I make at home.

                      1. re: bajalover

                        I agree with you.

                        Though the problems of Scoma's are documented in the above link ... which was in response to a specific query ... I have more recs for Scoma's on the board than advice not to go ... the crab I had in Scoma's cioppino was the best I ever had.

                        I prefer Tadich's broth, but that Scoma's crab was sweet and succulant and tasting of the sea ... in an excellent way.

                        I might not recommend Scoma's as a detour to the above post ... but that was a 2006 query and why I didn't respond in the first place.

                        Since PDXPat mentioned considering going to The Nantucket, I will respond that it was memorably bad crab in the cioppino there.

                        For me, my visits to The Nantucket had food that was passable at best and memorably bad at worst. It's an ok place to sit on the water on a nice day and watch the boats go by, but don't go expecting greatness food-wise.

                        It has better fish than The Dead Fish ... PDXpat was right about that ... the mussels are one of the few good dishes at Dead Fish.

                        PDXPat, you might consider The Waterfront in Rodeo ... never had their crab ... but in about the same league as Dead Fish and The Nantucket. I liked the food a little better. There seems to be something going on there as the website has been revised. I need to get back and see what's up. Haven't tried the crab though ... they have a garlic roasted version.



                        There's a new Cajun place in Rodea called Trinity which has garlic crab on the weekend. I only ate there once and didn't have the crab, so can't say. There are a couple of opinions about this place in this topic.

                  2. Hmmm, on the road to Benicia.... Well, how about the ole Sea Breeze Market? It's right on the frontage road just off the Eastshore Fwy's University Ave. exit. They serve whole and half crabs steamed and accompanied in a very garlicky olive oil blend. I actually ask them to go easy on it so I can face others after the experience. If the weather's nice, you can either eat it right there on one of the picnic tables, or pack it up and head down to the pier or park at end of the Berkeley marina. It's pretty reasonable too, with a whole steamed crab going for $16. I must've done something right in a past life as the last visit included an extra claw and a few extra legs :)